FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: The Wilderness Society
Finding the Truth: A Response to President Bush’s June 18, 2008 Speech
Calling for More Domestic Drilling of Oil and Natural Gas
WASHINGTON, DC - June 18 - Despite the abject failure of an unprecedented drilling boom on Western public lands to lower energy prices during the past seven years of the Bush administration, today the President once again advocated drilling in environmentally sensitive, protected public places purportedly to ease the increasing cost of energy that most Americans face.
“At a time when creative thinking is urgently needed, President Bush’s approach does not provide real solutions or move the country toward a more forward-thinking energy policy,” David Alberswerth, senior energy policy advisor for the Wilderness Society, said. “From day one, his administration promoted a ‘drill everything’ agenda, but the only result has been record high energy prices for average Americans, record profits for oil companies, and more degradation of our Western public lands from their reckless development policies.”
“At a time when creative thinking is urgently needed, President Bush’s approach does not provide real solutions or move the country toward a more forward-thinking energy policy,” Alberswerth said. “Today’s high gasoline prices are the result of a host of economic conditions that have little to do with how much drilling is or is not taking place on federal lands. According to economic experts, these conditions include the weak dollar, increased speculation, and dramatically increased consumption in China and India.”
To relieve fuel prices, said Alberswerth, America should instead move into the 21st century with measures that will conserve American energy use and speed the development of renewable energy sources. Such approaches cut American demand for oil and provide true relief at the pump.
A few quick facts on why cutting demand must by the focus of any rational energy policy:
· America contains less than 3 percent of the world’s oil resources yet consumes almost 25 percent of the world’s oil production. Clearly, we cannot drill our way to energy independence.
· Conservation and increased energy efficiency is a far more powerful tool than drilling for easing the demand for oil. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that new technologies and conservation alone will decrease American demand for oil by 100 billion barrels through 2050.
Why President Bush strays from the truth when he calls for more drilling to lower energy prices:
Increased on-shore and off-shore Domestic Drilling:
· The administration’s pace of oil and gas leasing has out-stripped industry’s ability to drill. The oil and gas industry has leases on more than 44 million acres of public land in the Rockies but has developed less than 10 million acres of that land.
· Even though the United States has more drilling rigs operating than the rest of the world combined, prices have not dropped. The most recent Baker Hughes rig count shows 1,901 drilling rigs operating in the U.S. (offshore and onshore), and 1,305 in the entire rest of the world.
· Since taking office, the Bush administration ahs issued leases on over 26 million acres of on-shore public lands.
Drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
· Drilling the Arctic Refuge would not help ordinary Americans. If oil were discovered in commercial quantities, no oil would flow from the Refuge for at least 10 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). At peak production in 2030, gas prices would drop by only a few pennies per gallon the EIA reports.
· It’s not worth destroying this “American Serengeti”—home to more than 250 animal species and birds from all 50 states—because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
· Any claims big oil makes about drilling in an environmentally sensitive manner are patently false because history proves that oil spills are an inevitable part of drilling in Alaska.
Oil Shale in Green River Basin:
· The President falsely claims Democratic leaders slipped in a provision in the dark of night. In reality, last June, 14 Republicans joined 202 Democrats in voting to prevent the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from finalizing the rules governing a commercial leasing and development program for the oil shale resources found on two million acres of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (House Roll Call Vote No. 577). The President himself signed this limitation into law in December 2007.
· Government regulations do not prohibit development of this potential resource, technological feasibility does. Current federal policy supports a robust oil shale research and development program on federal lands managed by the BLM. However, despite a significant investment, industry admits they are a decade or more away from establishing the economic viability, technical efficiency, and environmental performance of the technologies. Even Shell admits its new technology remains many years away from viability.
· Analysis published by the BLM and RAND Corporation point to considerable risks to the environment and local communities because oil shale technology requires more water than the region has available and all current technology would require massive amounts of energy from new coal plants.
· There is nothing standing in the way of oil shale companies commercially developing the significant resources already under their control, yet none has ever developed a successful commercial oil shale project on these lands. The United States Geological Survey estimates that hundreds of billions of barrels of oil equivalent are locked in deposits found on the nearly three million acres already owned or controlled by private companies.
The Wilderness Society's mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places.